TSA’s use of facial recognition comes under congressional scrutiny

In today's Federal Newscast: The Transportation Security Administration’s use of facial recognition comes under congressional scrutiny. The Government Printin...

  • A familiar face has taken over a key management role at the Office of Management and Budget. Loren DeJonge Schulman is the new Associate Director for Performance and Personnel Management at OMB. Federal News Network has confirmed DeJonge Schulman will replace Pam Coleman, who left in August. As associate director, DeJonge Schulman will help advance the President's Management Agenda, federal workforce initiatives and evidence-based policy-making programs. She joins OMB after spending the last two-plus years as the vice president for research, evaluation and modernizing government at the Partnership for Public Service. This is DeJonge Schulman's second stint in government, previously working for the Defense Department and the National Security Council.
  • A top Department of Veterans Affairs executive is leaving the agency. Terry Adirim has been leading the VA’s rollout of a new, multi-billion-dollar Electronic Health Record (EHR) system since December 2021. But she will be leaving the agency at the end of the month. Adirim’s departure is taking place just a few months before the VA is scheduled to resume the rollout of the Oracle-Cerner EHR. EHR rollouts at the VA have been on hold since last summer to give the agency more time to address underlying problems with the system as documented by its inspector general. The VA said the leadership shakeup will not interfere with plans to resume go-lives in June.
  • The Government Printing Office plans to adopt 19 broad-based suggestions to make federal information easier to access digitally. GPO's Director Hugh Halpern wrote to the 23-member Task Force on a Digital Federal Depository Library Program detailing how the agency will implement its December 2022 recommendations. The areas GPO said it will focus on include working with libraries to explore specific needs of communities moving to a digital Federal Depository Library Program. It also will continue to work with the Library of Congress to expand collaboration and coordination with national libraries and agency publishers.
  • The Transportation Security Administration’s use of facial recognition comes under congressional scrutiny. Five senators are calling on TSA to halt its use of facial recognition at airports. In a letter to TSA Administrator David Pekoske, they say it is unclear how travelers can opt-out of facial recogniton at the 16 airports where TSA is piloting the technology. The lawmakers are seeking answers from TSA on the accuracy of its facial recognition tech, what consequences travelers face for opting out, and how TSA is protecting the biometric data it collects.
  • Agencies are still waiting on final regulations for an administrative leave law passed six years ago. The Office of Personnel Management has not finalized regulations to implement part of the 2017 Administrative Leave Act. The bill caps how long feds can spend on administrative leave. Specifically, the changes are not yet finalized for feds taking leave when under agency investigation, or awaiting a decision on an adverse personnel action. Congress passed the law as a way to prevent millions of dollars in salary costs from going to feds on this type of leave. OPM said the delay on regulations is due to an issue with the law’s language, which could prevent feds working overseas from taking time off for rest and recuperation.
  • The IRS is looking to get refunds to certain taxpayers more quickly this year. The agency is now allowing individuals, who are electronically filing an amended tax return, to get their refund via direct deposit. The IRS first allowed taxpayers to submit an amended return electronically in 2020, but previously had them wait for a paper check to arrive in the mail. About 3 million individuals file amended tax returns every year.
  • The Pentagon released the results of its biennial report on the quality of life for military spouses and their families. The new survey, released Friday, looks into issues over the past two years including the effects of COVID-19, food insecurity and employment for spouses. DoD’s Office of People Analytics collects the data every other year. The survey looked at disruptions caused by the pandemic, including loss of child care options, lower levels of financial security and lower overall satisfaction with military life. DoD uses the survey results to prioritize the ways it provides help for military families.
  • The Social Security Administration is mapping out ways to implement its latest strategic plan. The SSA is now looking for feedback on its learning agenda, which outlines the agency's major goals for the next several years. Those goals include improving service delivery for people facing barriers, as well as improving agency communication and outreach. The feedback from the public and stakeholders will help SSA revise and update its overall learning agenda. Comments on the roadmap are due March 2.
  • The Defense Innovation Board wants to hear from individual businesses about the challenges of working with the Pentagon. It put out requests for interviews as part of a study on strategic investment capital. The study was announced at the winter meeting of the board on February 1. It will provide an opportunity for business people in the private sector to share their thoughts on how to improve their relationships with DoD. A call-for-interviews application is posted online.
  • The National Archives and Records Administration is delaying the transition to a new electronic records system for agencies. NARA said the projected launch date for the Electronic Records Archive (ERA) 2.0 system is now mid-April. It was initially expected to go live as soon as February. Agencies use ERA to schedule and transfer records to the Archives. NARA has been migrating data from the legacy ERA system ahead of its shutdown and the transition to ERA 2.0.

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